Author Topic: Information about a Norman Rambler?  (Read 21006 times)

Offline Steve T

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Information about a Norman Rambler?
« on: June 05, 2013, 12:59:32 AM »
The bike is in South Australia. It has a Villiers engine with B3833 on the cylinder, am unable to read the engine number. I'm unsure of the year, thinking WW2 era. Any information would be much appreciated, the plan is to restore it but really don't have much to work with.
Cheers...

Offline R

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 01:36:06 AM »
That would appear to be a just postwar Norman with the 125cc Mk 9D engine in it.
http://motorbike-search-engine.co.uk/classic_bikes/1946-norman.jpg

ACME and Waratah and other makes made something very similar, Villiers supplied a whole horde of makers.
Excelsior in the UK included.
The Rambler was a different model of Norman ?

P.S. Where is your gearchange lever ?

Offline Steve T

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 02:19:18 AM »
Thanks for your help, gear lever is the flat piece of steel poking out from behind the exhaust.

Online 33d6

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 12:33:59 PM »
Norman were sold in Australia under both Norman or Roamer brand names (not Rambler) although there are stories they were sold in other countries as Ramblers. It was just badge engineering like Matchless/AJS. Exactly the same bike even to frame & engine numbers but different tank transfers.
If it has the original engine the number will start with the prefix 364/, the frame prefix is B/ as you show.
Norman/Roamer first arrived here in 1948 and as that was the last year of the 9D engine (the 10D appeared in 1949) I would say its pretty conclusive you have a 1948 Norman/Roamer.
The above info comes courtesy of my copy of Victoria Police Complete List of Motor Vehicles, Data for Registration Purposes.
The VMCC Library ( www.vmcc.net ) has a leaflet on the two bikes in the 1948 range and a broad range of Villiers info. They will happily sell photocopies to non-members. They can also supply all relevant Norman transfers but I think you'll find it difficult to find the Roamer equivalent as Roamer appears to be an overseas market name only.
Cheers,
 

Offline R

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Offline cardan

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2013, 07:11:53 AM »

The "Rambler" name was used by Super Elliott in Adelaide just post war" autocycles and Villiers 125 motorcycles. Nice find, particularly of interest in SA.

I wouldn't spend a cent on cosmetics. Tidy it up, restore the engine, forks and wheel bearings and take it for a ride.

Leon

Online 33d6

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2013, 08:30:41 AM »
Curiouser and curiouser. Norman were sold under their own name plus Roamer in Victoria and Rambler in South Aust. Excelsior were sold under their own name throughout Australia plus as Waratah in New South Wales, mainly in Sydney it would appear.

Why was that? Why all the different names?

All of this was in the immediate postwar period. What was going on that required these very ordinary commuter style road bikes to need all these names? Was this some way to dodge import restrictions or to avoid dealing with the official importer? Has anyone any idea?

I'd love to know.

Cheers,

Offline cardan

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2013, 01:25:41 PM »

I have no idea, but rebranding was a very common thing in Australia. When I get the chance I'll have a look to see if they sold Roamers here is SA as well as Rambler.

Steve - can we have a nice photo of the Rambler transfer on the petrol tank? Do we know what the Roamer transfer looked like?

Leon

Offline R

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2013, 12:00:04 AM »
In the UK at various times there were a proliferation of 'kit' bikes, which avoided paying various taxes.

Maybe if the bikes were brought in as kits, with some local content added, something similar applied in Australia. ?
And as bike sales territories were state based, each state had one or more dealers/importers doing this - and they can't all use the same name....

Online 33d6

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2013, 02:37:13 AM »
The 'kit' bike thing certainly worked in the 20's and 30's. The Waratah was basically a Sun-Villiers kit plus there were others like the Utility and Simplex, all Villiers powered. About the last was the Acme, introduced in 1939 and carrying on into the 40's finally stopping when Villiers stopped making the 9D engine.
Generally though these bikes were a unique assembly using their own frame numbers even though they were just a different way of assembling the standard British lightweight jigsaw puzzle.
These postwar bikes are different. There is no doubt they are Norman or Excelsior because they retain the Norman and Excelsior identifying numbers and they appear to have no local content. There is no attempt to disguise them as anything other than what they are-except for the transfer on the tank.
Finally, I've never seen either a Roamer or Rambler tank transfer. I have the Roamer info in my Police Records and have seen an old painted 'Roamer Agent' sign on an abandoned motorcycle shop in the country but nothing more.
It's just another of those odd little motorcycle mysteries I suppose.
Cheers,

Offline Steve T

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2013, 02:47:28 AM »
I've started something here!
Got a couple more photos that may help? Had no idea about any of this, very interesting...

Offline cardan

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2013, 09:49:40 AM »

Hi Steve,

Nice images of the tank transfer - clearly something special for "Rambler" whatever that might be.

Can you give us your best guess at the engine and frame numbers?

33d6 gave us: "If it has the original engine the number will start with the prefix 364/, the frame prefix is B/" (if the bike is a rebadged Norman), but if I look at your first image seems to show no prefix on the frame number? This sort of thing is the key to differentiating "kit" bikes from "rebadged" bikes. For example A. G. Healing built many bikes from the teens into the 1920s. The complete Healing-built bikes have Healing frame numbers all over them (despite many different names on the tank), but there are other bikes that seem to use the same lugs, but have no frame numbers at all. Presumably the "no numbers" bikes are built from kits of Healing lugs.

Norman rebadged? Or kits of Norman parts built up locally (?) and badged Rambler? The answer might be in the numbers, or even the location of the numbers. Were Norman frame numbers stamped on the left side of the steering head lug?

Cheers

Leon

The attached image is taken from your original posting, just rotated and fiddled a bit.

Online 33d6

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2013, 05:49:40 AM »
On top of all this it has competition plates fitted! One would have to be very, very hopeful to think a 9D powered bike would make a viable  comp bike but it's better than not competing at all I suppose. Then again my mate has the sad remains of a 9D powered Montgomery Terrier and it was set up for 'competition' when he got it so there must have been something going on in the 125cc class way back then.
As a one time Acme rider I can't imagine what sort of competition you'd enter with anything powered by a 9D.
Whatever the case I hope Steve can get the Rambler back on the road and somehow preserve that magnificent Rambler tank emblem.
Cheers,

Offline cardan

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2013, 10:01:37 AM »

Let's add a little to the confusion. Interesting to compare the first two attachments with the ones I've posted previously. It looks like machines branded both "Roamer" and "Rambler" were for sale at Super Elliott in Adelaide in 1949.

Add to this that George Bolton was selling Norman (by 1949 most of the adverts were for Norman Autocycles) and the "South Australian Distributor" for Norman was Hubbards. (see third attachment from 1945)

There is a story there waiting to be revealed, but I'm not sure who might know what it is. We need someone in management level in the motorcycle industry in Adelaide in the late 1940s. These people would now be into their 90s or older, so difficult to reveal info from this source. The other likely place would be the motorcycling press of the day, which was a little sparse.

Anyway Steve, if we get the engine and frame numbers they can be compared against the Norman numbers.

Cheers

Leon